Can Cats Eat Chocolate? A Quick Guide to the Health Impacts

If you’ve own a dog, you’ve probably heard someone at some point tell you never to give your dog chocolate. It feels like such common knowledge that even I didn’t think about the health effects of chocolate on my cat. I figured it would make him sick!

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Cats and dogs are very different though, so can cats eat chocolate?

can cats eat chocolate

How Much Chocolate is Too Much?

A common question is: can I feed my cat chocolate? Well, kind of. You should probably still avoid giving your cat chocolate due to the ingredients in it that cats can’t break down, but in the end, a couple pieces won’t kill them. Just remember that the darker the chocolate is, the less they can eat, with baking chocolate being the worst. If your cat is around 10 pounds, as little as a half of square of baking chocolate can be toxic, while as many as 23 Hershey’s Kisses can be as well. If we were to rank it in terms of how toxic they are, the common dark chocolate and milk chocolates we have would range in the middle while baking chocolate is the worst at the top of the list and white chocolate is at the bottom of the list (being least toxic). Use your best judgment if you see they’ve eaten any, and always take your cat to the vet if you’re really worried.

Related: The Dangers of Cat Urine and what impacts it can cause to your health

Why is Chocolate ok for Humans and Not for Cats?

Humans can process the ingredients in chocolate without any real problems, but unfortunately, cats don’t have that luxury. Caffeine and theobromine, two of the main ingredients in your chocolate, are toxic to your cat in high doses. This is because cats cannot metabolize theobromine well. When they ingest chocolate, it remains in their bloodstream and builds up until it gets to a toxic level, leading to negative symptoms in your friend. Theobromine is also known as a stimulant which affects the nervous system and the heart muscle. What Theobromine and Caffeine do is that they relax the muscles, thereby causing the kidneys to increase producing and eliminating urine. Hence, knowing what impacts Theobromine and Caffeine can have, especially on our pets’ little bodies, even little amounts of chocolate can have significant impacts.

Related: Oh no! My cat ate a chicken bone!

Symptoms of Poisoning

The possible symptoms, like toxicity, depend on how much chocolate your cat has eaten. If they’ve only had a couple chips, they should be fine, but if they’ve had baking chocolate or half the bag, you need to look for symptoms and try to induce vomiting before you run them to the vet.

In general, you can expect to see vomiting, diarrhea, excessive urination, nausea, seizures, and a quickened heartbeat. In addition to these symptoms, also look out for tremors, panting, nervousness, or even lethargy. Even more chocolate could lead to a coma or death. Symptoms like these could start within a few hours or a few days, so always go to your vet right away if you think your cat ate some chocolate. It’s better to be safe than sorry. And based on these symptoms, the best way to avoid them 100% is to not give your cat any chocolate at all and completely nullify any risk

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What to Do? Treatment!

Maybe you think you can solve the problem yourself and it’ll be like it never happened. You might be able to if your cat hasn’t had a lot of chocolate, but it’s often just be better to seek help from professionals. As always, when you think your cat has ingested something toxic or if you’re concerned, seek medical advice from your vet. Common symptoms can become serious quickly, so it’s best to let your vet handle it. They might be able to induce vomiting and use active charcoal to stop the chocolate from invading the blood. In more serious cases, your cat might even need to have their heart monitored by the vet, so get them to emergency services if you feel that you need further assistance.

I’ve heard all my life that it’s a bad idea to feed my dog chocolate. So is it true for my cat? Can cats eat chocolate?  The easy answer is yes. Sure, I can give my cat a couple pieces, but I think I might just avoid that. With all the negative symptoms and possibilities, I’d feel a little better if my cat just stayed away from it completely. If he finds some accidentally or I drop a chocolate chip, he’ll be fine, and that at least puts my mind at ease. Overall, cats are actually less prone to be attracted to chocolates because they cannot taste the sweetness, unlike dogs. Cats can also digest and break down theobromine a little faster. This is good news. However, do still bear in mind that the toxic threshold for cats is actually lower than that for dogs.

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